In Brief

Conservatives wargaming to stop second Scottish independence referendum

Leaked memo lays out strategies to resist pressure from Scottish National Party

The Conservative government is plotting to scupper hopes of a second Scottish independence referendum, a leaked memo suggests.

Bloomberg reports that the 21-page document has been circulated to “a select group of people” including Michael Gove and outlines tactics to delay and then avoid a referendum if the Scottish National Party (SNP) lands a majority in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

The memo argues that continuing the current strategy of dismissing calls for another independence vote would be “counterproductive” and that London should instead consider countermeasures such as handing more power to Edinburgh. 

The authors also suggest pressuring Brussels to rule out the idea of Scotland re-joining the EU as an independent nation, as well as advising Scottish Tories to launch “a hard-hitting, attack-focused” campaign against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The memo was written by Hanbury Strategy, a political consultancy firm set up by Ameet Gill, David Cameron’s one-time director of strategy, and Paul Stephenson, former director of communications for Vote Leave.

A poll published last week by Ipsos Mori in partnership with STV News put support for Scottish independence at 58%, the highest level ever. Almost two-thirds (64%) of more than 1,000 respondents said that Downing Street should allow another independence referendum to be held within the next five years if the SNP wins a majority in 2021 - a vote outcome expected by pundits. Only a third (34%) said the UK government should not allow a second vote.

The last time a public opinion poll showed a majority of Scots against independence “came out at the end of March, with the next poll, in May, showing a tie” and ten subsequent surveys all putting Yes in the lead, Politico reports.

Recommended

Infection rise prompts European crackdown on vaccine refuseniks
Anti-vaccination sign at protest
Getting to grips with . . .

Infection rise prompts European crackdown on vaccine refuseniks

Will MPs’ pay rise outstrip public sector workers’?
An NHS nurse
Today’s big question

Will MPs’ pay rise outstrip public sector workers’?

Health data, green banking and flawed maps
An MRI scanner
Podcast

Health data, green banking and flawed maps

Quiz of The Week: 17 - 23 July
A sign warning people to self-isolate if contacted by NHS Test and Trace
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 17 - 23 July

Popular articles

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays
Boris Johnson receives his second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
Getting to grips with . . .

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays

Ten great health, fitness and wellbeing ideas
Woman doing yoga
Advertisement Feature

Ten great health, fitness and wellbeing ideas

How taking the knee began
Colin Kaepernick takes the knee
Getting to grips with . . .

How taking the knee began

The Week Footer Banner